Do consumers have a gender preference when it comes to brand names?
Linguistically feminine brand names are perceived by consumers as warmer and are therefore better liked and more frequently chosen, according to a new university study.
In the paper, “Is Nestlé a Lady? The Feminine Brand Name Advantage,” researchers from University of Calgary, University of Montana, HEC Paris and University of Cincinnati said several factors determine whether a name is perceived as feminine or masculine:
- Women’s names tend to be longer, have more syllables, have stress on the second or later syllable and end with a vowel (e.g., Amánda).
- Men’s names tend to be shorter with one stressed syllable, or with stress on the first of two syllables, and end in a consonant (e.g., Éd or Édward).
Analyzing the highest ranking brands on Interbrand’s Global Top Brands list over the past twenty years, the study found 55 percent, including Coca-Cola, Nike, Disney and IKEA, had feminine names, 36 percent had masculine-sounding names. Nine percent had gender-neutral names.
Participants in conducted studies also rated brands with linguistically feminine names, including made-up ones, as warmer, thereby increasing purchase intentions.
Feminine-sounding brands were found to be more appealing because they are associated with traits like trustworthiness, sincerity, friendliness, tolerance and good nature.
“People tend to process certain words instinctively, triggering associations that they may be unaware of,” Ruth Pogacar, a co-author and a professor at the University of Calgary, told The Wall Street Journal.
The advantage was found to be reduced if the product was designed only for men (e.g., men’s sneakers) and eliminated when the product was strictly functional, like bathroom scales.
Brand names represent a consumer’s “first point of contact and can, therefore, drive initial impressions, associations, and expectations,” according to the study.
The internet is flooded with tips on coming up with good brand names. Lately, search engine optimization, URL competition and social media appeal have emerged as principal concerns. The study’s researchers also cite the fact that “as new brands are introduced daily, securing a desirable name is a growing challenge due to the limited number of existing words to trademark.”
- “Is Nestlé a Lady? The Feminine Brand Name Advantage” – Journal of Marketing
- The market advantage of a feminine brand name – Science Daily
- How to Make a Brand More Appealing: Give it a Feminine Name – The Wall Street Journal
- Why Humanizing Your Brand With a First Name Will Resonate With Customers – Adweek
- From Nike to Disney, Feminine Brand Names are More Attractive to Consumers, Says Study – The Fashion Law
- Target, Whole Foods, ShopRite and Other Retailers Look to Upgrade Their Store Brands – The Wall Street Journal
- How (Not) to Name a Company in the Digital Era – Knowledge@Wharton
- Why Fashion Brands Today Have Such Strange Names – The Wall Street Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does it make sense that feminine-sounding names have an advantage in appealing to consumers? What suggestions do you have for coming up with brand names?